Dressing the Devil


A red and green medieval devil

First devil and satan in The Harrowing of Hell. Photo credit: Michael Baker.

Many parents will have made costumes for a school nativity play. But how do you set about recreating the costumes for angels, devils and pilgrims as they would have appeared on stage several hundred years ago? How do you produce a skeleton using authentic medieval techniques? And just what did early modern performers wear on their feet?

These problems and more confronted Ros Barnes, who was chief Wardrobe Mistress for performances of the Anglo-Saxon plays Harrowing of Hell and Lawrence of Durham’s Peregriniwhich took place in Durham in 2016 as part of the Records of Early English Drama North East project. In addition to creating the fabulous costumes for these productions, Ros also assisted with the design and tailoring of costumes for the Renaissance song and dance spectacle which took place on Palace Green, The Sacred and the Profane.

In an interview with project researcher, Dr Mark Chambers, Ros describes how she took inspiration from medieval paintings, outlines the difficulties of putting together costumes using a combination of historical and new methods, and explains how to deal with that age-old problem: the diva who wants his or her costume to look a certain way! Find out more at the Records of Early English Drama North East blog.

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